Qunya-Boqwana links found

By Time of article published Jul 22, 2011

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QUNYA-BOQWANA LINKS FOUND

Companies and Intellectual Property Commission records suggest that Xolobeni Empowerment Company (Xolco) co-founders Max Boqwana and Zamile “Madiba” Qunya at some stage shared other business interests.

Boqwana resigned as a director of Home Bag Investments, an enterprise set up in 2004 under the industry code “financial intermediation”, whose other directors include Zamile Qunya. He also resigned as a director of Golden Circle Investments, whose directors include Xolco board members Mavis Denge and Chris Ngcwele.

Boqwana denied a business link with Qunya, saying his legal firm used shelf companies to help clients set up businesses.

Qunya initially denied financial interests with Boqwana apart from Xolco, but when asked about Home Bag Investments, he said it was formed to “deal with property development… That company never happened”. Boqwana responded: “You can’t develop property in the villages… I don’t know where this story of property development comes from.” – Ingi Salgado

TORMIN MINERAL SANDS PROJECT

A 2008 letter from the Mineral Resources Department to Mineral Commodities (MRC), which was recently endorsed by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, raises questions about the Tormin mineral sands project on South Africa’s west coast.

The Xolobeni Empowerment Company (Xolco), originally set up as the junior empowerment vehicle for the Xolobeni mineral sands project of Australian miner Mineral Commodities (MRC), found its status elevated after the departure of Ehlobo Heavy Minerals. Xolco subsequently became a minority shareholder in MRC’s Tormin project.

According to Xolco co-founder Zamile “Madiba” Qunya, Xolco held a 5 percent shareholding in Tormin.

He expected dividends from Tormin to start flowing in about 18 months.

A little-known entity, Morodi Mining Resources, complained to the Department of Mineral Resources about MRC’s mining right over Tormin, but the department said yesterday it would not reconsider the licence unless a formal appeal was lodged.

The questions asked about Xolco in respect of the Xolobeni licence apply equally to its shareholding in the Tormin project.

The 2008 directive from the department to MRC subsidiary Transworld Energy and Minerals had asked for documentation on the structure and working agreement of the representative trusts and community benefits within Xolco. In a letter revoking the Xolobeni mining right in May, Shabangu gave the firm 90 days to submit outstanding information identified in the directive.

Lawyer Xolani Njokweni, an associate of Xolco co-founder Max Boqwana, said there was “no reason to believe” the information requested about Xolco had not been submitted to the department.

He said he was too busy yesterday afternoon to pass it on to Business Report.

According to Zamile Qunya, Xolco’s dividends from Tormin were earmarked for “everybody above 18 years living in the area”. He did not know how the board would administer the disbursement of funds via the trusts.

Sampson Gampe, one of the oldest anti-mining campaigners in the area, doubted that AmaDiba communities would receive the dividends from Tormin. “They won’t give us any money… If they do, then it means we’ll accept their deal. We don’t want that.”

A COMMUNITY UNIMPRESSED

Former minerals and energy minister Buyelwa Sonjica acknowledged deficiencies in the Xolobeni mineral sands licence application in 2008, but the matter went unresolved until May this year when the right was revoked by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.

The AmaDiba Crisis Committee (ACC), formed in 2007 to oppose mining, welcomed the ruling, which specified the licensee had not complied with environmental requirements.

However, members were angry that Shabangu said the mining company had taken “all reasonable steps” to consult interested and affected parties. Sampson Gampe, a veteran of the 1960-2 Pondo War, said: “She (the minister) is still in a war with us because she’s not talking about us – she’s talking about trees, water and things. She doesn’t talk about us, or our animals, or where we’ll stay,” he said.

The minister’s finding on MRC’s consultation process appears to conflict with a 2008 Human Rights Commission (HRC) finding as well as the verbal testimony of ACC members, who alleged extreme lengths were taken to exclude them from participating.

“It is very clear that, once again, somebody has misinformed the minister,” said ACC member Sinegugu Zukulu, a former Kearsney College geography teacher and director of Sustaining the Wild Coast, which campaigns for ecologically sensitive economic solutions for the region. Sonjica promised after the second meeting to return to the community following consultation with traditional leaders, Zukulu said, but instead the community had waited in limbo for years, after which “the new minister comes in and takes this decision”. – Ingi Salgado

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